I knew the day would come. And it has. I have moved Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler to the out of reach shelf on my library. By that I mean their books. Part of my personal library are two nine foot shelves, immediately behind my desk where I keep all of my most used book right at arms length. The rest of the shelves are separated into recognizable sections like commentary, systematic theology, Biblical theology, History/biography, homiletics, Spurgeon, etc. But the high use shelves are organized according the the system in my own head. I simply stretch out my hand and there is a book that has seen much use and whose service is required yet again. And no longer do Driscoll or Chandler reside there.
To get a few things out of the way first, they were not removed because of any baggage. It should be pretty obvious to any long time reader that I think Driscoll is not the devil incarnate, and we should be grateful for the good God did through him. And I likewise like Chandler, I have some concerns but nothing insurmountable. The books honestly should have made the journey to the. “I need a chair to stand on to reach” shelf a long time ago. They kept their place of pride mostly because of Driscoll. I get a kick out of watching people’s eyes start darting too and fro when they spy the books by he who must not be named on TGC. I still slipped Doctrine onto my systematic theology shelf to startle people. But more than that his books, specifically the early ones put out by Crossway, are still gorgeous. One of the things that he doesn’t get credit for was producing edifying, high quality, books that were a pleasure to read on many levels. Religion Saves was really the pinnacle. As far as cover design, quality of binding, layout, and feel in the hand… Banner of Truth was seeing a shot across the bow. The renaissance in quality christian publishing owes a lot to Mark Driscoll. And for that reason alone he took pride of place, next to Crossway’s last effort at beautiful books… The Complete Works of Francis Shaffer 1982.
The reason they moved was because they are not as useful as they once were. Time has passed, and changed. Just like a few months ago I finally moved up all of my books on the Emergent Church and Donald Miller. The things being address are just not as useful. Or at least just not as timeless as The Practical Works of Richard Baxter that replaced them.
As practical as the decision and move was, I still have a melancholy about it. I loved these books. As a young(er) man I devoured them. I learned a lot, I grew a lot. I owe a debt to these books, they were formative. Both Chandler and Driscoll lead me to the Puritans (along with Lewis, Wilson, Washer, Packer…)* Both of them still echo down my application and teaching style. Both were vital in making me Reformed, nay a Calvinist! So it kind of hurts to see them fade in my library.
Maybe one day they will have their uses again. Perhaps the reformed movement will, reform as I am guessing it will. And the books will serve as a form of guideposts on where the pitfalls are. I don’t know, but for now, I’m just a little sad.
*Frankly it had to be a group effort, my mother had done a great job on making the Puritans as dour, legalistic, and dull as possible through our Bob Jones homeschool curriculum and I had a pretty thick prejudice. So it took some doing to bring me around.